Sudan: Action Against Hunger highlights importance of political solution to bring security to the region

Witnessing the atrocities affecting Darfur's population on a daily basis, Action Against Hunger's teams are among those NGO's still present in this hard-hit province of Sudan. From its presence on the ground, the following can be concluded: as the conflict is spreading and the number of instigators of violence is growing, an armed and non-negotiated intervention would seem dangerous. An intervention would most likely make an already bad situation even worse, triggering yet more violence. Somalia and Iraq have demonstrated this.

A complex situation

The political situation in Darfur has become more complex over the past months, especially since the signing of the Abuja peace deal in 2006. Rebel groups, both those that signed the peace deal and those who did not, have split into multiple factions and new rebel movements. Numerous sub-factions are arising as the conflict splinters. Heavy fighting between various factions is recurrent with frequent attacks on civilians common practice among all factions. Humanitarian workers have also directly been targeted. Some experts are comparing the situation to Somalia, which should alarm those in favor of an intervention without negotiation and prior agreement.

Priority to negotiation of peace force

Action Against Hunger calls for mediations to find a viable political solution to the situation. The negotiation of an unsatisfactory deal only supported by some rebel factions as happened in Abuja last year is unsatisfactory. In this case the precipitation and desire to offer a presentable deal to the international community at all costs led to the terrible situation that populations and the humanitarian organisations supporting them have to confront today. Pressure is an option; sanctions outlined in certain resolutions approved by the United Nations Security Council need to be enforced to allow for respect of humanitarian law and the protection of civilians. The Sudanese government has "opened a door" on Monday, 16 April, in accepting the second phase of a UN plan to deploy 3,000 troops to support the African Union troops. This might be a first step. For us humanitarians, the issue is to negotiate the deployment of a real peace force able to bring security to Darfur.

2.5 million people depending on humanitarian assistance

Humanitarian assistance to Darfur since the beginning of the conflict has prevented a real disaster. 2.5 million people out of a population of 6 million have been displaced. They are surviving in vast camps for displaced people, completely dependent on humanitarian assistance, with humanitarians treating malnutrition, taking care of the sick and providing food and water. The prime concerns for humanitarians are the many regions that are not accessible due to insecurity as well as new population displacements. No NGO can accept such a situation and would not want to see another tragedy as South Sudan had to endure for more than 20 years.

However, trying to respond to this by means of a non-negotiated intervention could have disastrous consequences, risking triggering even more violence and jeopardizing the provision of vital humanitarian assistance to millions of people. The anarchic and tragic situation in Iraq and Somalia provide a sad example of this.